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The fun and the fury of Pedestrian Sunday

Posted by Staff / July 30, 2012

pedestrian sundayCar-free Sundays in Kensington Market are shaping up to be one of the most divisive recurring events in the city. For a couple years now we've heard rumblings about how some local businesses in the market feel shutting the streets to cars is bad for business. But with the unveiling of new gates last week that are designed to keep cars out of the market it seems that tensions have escalated.

These seven new semi-permanent street planters equipped with swinging gates come at a reported price tag of $179,000, paid for by the City as well as the Kensington BIA (which collects dues from local businesses). Seems like a steep price for a barrier and some businesses aren't happy about it. Ossie Pavao, owner of Casa Acoreana, told the National Post the gates are a "monstrosity".

Pavao is so upset with local Councillor Adam Vaughan that he goes as far as threatening a physical altercation. "He's not welcome here, he told the Post. " If he steps on this property, I have every legal right to grab him by the scruff of the neck and throw him off the property."

Needless to say the latest installment of Pedestrian Sunday went off (reportedly) without incident. Shoppers still bought bags of chocolate chips and oat flour, there was much conversation and revelry to be had; and but for some disgruntled business owners mixed amongst the crowd it seemed all was alright with the world.

What do you think? Did you visit Kensington on Sunday? What do you think of the new gates?

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Johnny Tronno / July 30, 2012 at 11:24 am
I know how daft Toronto drivers can be but is a barrier of such enormity necessary to block a street from cars without making it look like a checkpoint from the cold war?

A simple removable barrier and a sign is all that's needed. Talk about overkill.
Pk / July 30, 2012 at 11:29 am
I'm not a shop owner and I don't have access to anybody's bookkeeping records, but I cannot see how a street jammed with thirsty, hungry people is bad for business.

On any day, (pedestrian Sunday or otherwise) how many shoppers arrive by car?
AV replying to a comment from Johnny Tronno / July 30, 2012 at 11:29 am
Sadly, it is required based on the combined intelligence of downtown drivers.
Online Fight Promoter / July 30, 2012 at 11:32 am
SUPER excited for the possible fight. Adds so much more allure than just being able to walk down a closed street.

I'm taking bets. Pavao seems super pissed, but I don't think Vaughan is one to back down from a fight. I've currently got Vaughan at 3:1

Online Fight Promoter / July 30, 2012 at 11:34 am
You can call me Tron King.
imakehighways / July 30, 2012 at 11:44 am
I'm no expert, but it looks really busy. Why are owners complaining exactly?
realc / July 30, 2012 at 11:47 am
What moron thought these barriers were a good idea? They take up wayyy too much space, they are ugly as hell and they block the flow of pedestrians. A set of temporary removable bollards would do the exact same job for 1% of the price. It's like they saw how european cities do it, and then were like "f-that, let's do it texas style"
Jordan / July 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm
This Pavao fello seems a bit daft to me - this event clearly brings hundreds of people to the neighbourhood. That's hundreds of potential customers. Instead of getting into a brawl with Vaughan, he should be thinking of ways to get those people into his business and buying things.
o_O / July 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm
The same curmudgeonly guy complains for a long time and suddenly the event is "divisive"? This article perfectly exemplifies why BlogTO is a joke.
Soused / July 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm
I went and bought some bulgogi, Gatorade, beers, a rhubarb strawberry pie and some lemonade. Friends bought burritos,
Mr. Pavao has some strange business ideas if he thinks multitudes of pedestrians supporting local business is worse than a few people driving past his shop at 20 km an hour.

I will say people walking through Kensington with Tim Hortons or Starbucks makes me cringe but you cannot begrudge someone's personal preference.

j / July 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm
It's busy, but it's only great for certain businesses. Restaurants, cafes, and gift shops do great, but actually getting groceries during a Pedestrian Sunday is a nightmare and as a result, many of the stores that made the market what it is suffer from lower sales.
MS / July 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Casa Acoreana guy is a dimwit if he thinks any significant number of his customers are coming by car. Oh yes, I definitely want to drive into the single most congested place in Toronto to buy some spices.
Joe / July 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm
I took part in pedestrian sunday yesterday. These new gates seemed to block pedestrian passage. They created bottlenecks at least down in the centre of the market. Complete overkill!
r / July 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm
here is some free advice. kensington is so over rated. shut down cocaine infested afterhours (56 kensington). drop a lot of bug bombs to get rid of all the cockaroaches. regularly have police raids in the park. i hate walking though there being asked to buy crack, heroine and weed. there are way too many bars as well. how about some free community spaces to actually develop people's lives into productive people in the community?
iSkyscraper / July 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm
The gates are stupid. Good old removable barricades and bollards would have been much better. But I can understand how in the conquered fiefdom of downtown Toronto they might have been seen as necessary to hold off the evil suburban overlords. Think about it this way -- good luck trying to cancel pedestrian Sundays now that expensive infrastructure has been installed. (Didn't stop Ford on Jarvis bike lanes in 2010 but I'll bet it will do the trick now).

Meanwhile, Pavao et al, please spare me the whining. New York closes SEVEN MILES of streets for their version of Pedestrian Sundays. A half dozen other big cities in North America do too. Enough already, it's 2012 and you're operating a business in the most successful downtown on the continent -- deal with it.
Jer / July 30, 2012 at 01:08 pm
Note to self to never buy anything at Casa Acoreana..

People spend a lot in advertising to try to get that kind of foot traffic in front of their stores. Maybe they won't buy anything this time around but they now know about the area and if they do have a need for your product maybe they will come back.
Antony / July 30, 2012 at 01:21 pm
Closing streets with temporary barricades requires hiring an on-site police officer. Over the course of a summer, that cost adds up.

Sure, the gates are a bit big, but they're necessary for Kensington to be "officially" pedestrianized without requiring an off-duty cop to oversee traffic closures.

bonezone / July 30, 2012 at 01:51 pm
i wish someone from the Kensington BIA would give a reason to why removable bollards were not installed, they make WAY more sense to not impede the flow of pedestrians. The barricades were causing some serious bottlenecks around them.
EricM / July 30, 2012 at 02:12 pm
Just so we are clear, cars do belong in Kensington the majority of the time. It is also a neighbourhood where people live and business operates and those interests trump the hipsters and neo-hippies who come down from the 905. This isn't a perfect solution either however... Oh Toronto council. It's the best tragic comedy on all sides once could hope to watch.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Antony / July 30, 2012 at 02:20 pm
Antony, that can't possibly be true. (If it is then TPS seriously needs to revise their policies.) This is what my local farmer's market in Manhattan looks like when they close the street every Saturday. Couple movable barricades and a banner, no cop required:
steve / July 30, 2012 at 02:21 pm
Something simple just will not work as a barrier. I have witnessed numerous time how cars just go around the planters on Gould street.
Matt / July 30, 2012 at 02:33 pm
The argument that business is suffering significantly because cars can't access the Market is silly. BUT, the Market is a perfectly good urban ecosystem—people love it because it works so well already. All this car-free stuff seems like an attempt to over-plan and over-curate the way people use the neighbourhood, and it risks just screwing it up, ruining what's special about it.

It's well-intentioned, of course. But why is it necessary? Besides that it sounds neat and progressive (car-free neighbourhood, woo!) does it actually make the area better in any way?
McRib / July 30, 2012 at 02:34 pm
road in busy market closed to cars for 6 out of 168 hours in a week.

Erika replying to a comment from McRib / July 30, 2012 at 02:42 pm
Hello?!? 905? is that you?!
Rick / July 30, 2012 at 02:44 pm
I thought it was great. I can't really see why anyone would complain. Who cares what the barriers look like?
Jane replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / July 30, 2012 at 02:45 pm
I don't know for sure but I suspect Antony is referring to Toronto by-laws requiring cops, rather than saying it's his opinion that a cop is needed. At pretty much every summer street festival (i.e. annex, little italy, taste of the danforth, etc.) there are removable barriers with cops at each end.
JennyT / July 30, 2012 at 02:48 pm
As an FYI I live off Augusta Ave. I am that 'neo-hippie' and when this happens I don't care what barriers are there, I leave for the weekend. You have to understand what a bad thing this is for folks in the neighbourhood. Business has trouble with product and the neighbours have to deal with the day trippers. It is nice it shows folks a place everyone in the GTA should experience, but I am torn because the fact is these weekends for us here are really, really bad.
Adam / July 30, 2012 at 02:54 pm
As a pedestrian I have always loved Pedestrian Sundays, but since I don't own a shop there I can't say whether its good for business or not. Based on my experience of going to the market on both Pedestrian Sundays and regular Sundays, and what I have observed while there, I would say that if anything it helps business!
John replying to a comment from steve / July 30, 2012 at 02:54 pm
When I was in Europe I saw a place with a huge pedestrian area with automatic rising bollards (posts) that came up and completely blocked access to the area but allowed unrestricted pedestrian access. In this particular place, it worked really well because it was pedestrian only every day but they allowed cars and trucks at night for deliveries and such. Because they were automatic, police and other emergency vehicles were able to get in and out without much problems either.

For something like Kensington, you could use manual ones that from what I understand could be bought for something like $500 a pop (so, $2k per closure for 7 intersections is $14k, give ourselves $100k for installation, gives us about $115k total) which would have been more functional and cheaper. On the other hand, the current ones have art on them.

For the event, I was there with my 3-1/2 year old, and we both loved it, spent lots of money we wouldn't otherwise have done, and I got a sunburn. I think they should do it every day.
James Eberhardt / July 30, 2012 at 02:55 pm
To Pavao: You don't have every legal right to grab someone by the scruff of their neck and throw them off your property. That's called assault. You have the right to ask them to leave. You can even swear at them if that would make you feel better about it.

Or you could ask him how you could help him and if he'd like to purchase something.

Personally, I like to shop in Kensington, on any day of the week, because of the atmosphere. That atmosphere includes Pedestrian Sundays. While I may not purchase something on a particular Sunday, I do make purchases on other days.
Michelle / July 30, 2012 at 03:01 pm
I thought the spirit of Kensington was about breaking down barriers, not putting them up.
JennT replying to a comment from Michelle / July 30, 2012 at 03:15 pm
Arg... it is a neighbourhood and people live in it.
Steve / July 30, 2012 at 03:16 pm
Okay this is hilarious.

1. Casa Acoreana is closed on Sundays, no?
2. The barriers need to be that size, to stop a constant steam of pedestrians from blocking East-West traffic crossing Augusta. Nassau, etc do not close, do not block them.
3. The market was as busy as it ever is, enjoy PS Kensington!
Terry / July 30, 2012 at 03:30 pm
I'm just curious - whats the argument for not allowing cars on Sundays?
Or put another way, what exactly is lost by not having cars through Kensington on Sunday's ??
I think this is a great idea, the market is living upto it's name...
Nice change and avenue for the city to have on laxxy Sunday's.
will / July 30, 2012 at 03:33 pm
$179K?! How many did they need? That seems a bit ridiculous, but what do I know?...What I do know, is that a good friend works for a private company that deals with various Ontario Ministries, and I hear a lot about exorbitant spending and constantly "over-pricing" jobs/contracts. And we've all been witness to it, with the olympic games in Vancouver, and our G20 summit. I think government organizations are a bit clueless when it comes to "value".
tibor juda replying to a comment from James Eberhardt / July 30, 2012 at 03:42 pm
Actually, I think as a business owner you're allowed to verbally "ban" anyone you want, for whatever reason. If that person comes into your business again, you're allowed to ask them forcefully to leave, and if they don't respond I believe you're allowed to attempt to get them out yourself. Sure it's technically "assault" but you could argue to a court that they were "banned" in the first place. Business owner's DO have rights, and as far as I know they're not much different from homeowner rights.
McRib replying to a comment from Erika / July 30, 2012 at 03:44 pm
no it isnt! I'm not sure why people think that Kensington is full of it?

truth be told i almost never go through Kensington despite living within walking distance, i just don't really get the outrage when the street is closed to vehicular traffic for what amounts to less than 4% of the week.

this is almost as awesome as newly moved-in beaches residents complaining about people going to the beach.
Katherine / July 30, 2012 at 04:24 pm
What I get from this article is that I should go into the metal-barrier making business. i'd be rich!
K replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / July 30, 2012 at 04:46 pm
Regrettably true: for removable barricades (like those found at festivals) an off duty police officer is required. And they are expensive! ($65+ per hour, each, plus supervisors.)

At $65 per hour, one officer on one eight-hour Sunday, ensuring that a temporary barricade is obeyed, costs about $520. There are seven road closures, so I'll presume seven officers to monitor them, and eleven market and festival days just in 2012 (market days August and September only). The total policing cost is somewhere around $40K.

According to the Kensington Market BIA website, the plan is to expand market Sundays to include June and July, doubling the number of market days, so this would bring policing costs up to somewhere around $80K per year.

In light of these numbers, the cost of the new barricades ($179K in total, or about $25K each) looks smart. It'll pay off in fewer than two years.
hellsbells / July 30, 2012 at 04:46 pm
I was there on Sunday. I thought it was amazing, gorgeous sunny, breezy day, everyone seemed to be in great spirits and enjoying the market community. The barricades were a bit intrusive but some local artist in true hippie style, planted their art up on them! Ok what is the problem. Here Mr.Paveo?? Business was booming at mosst locations why would anyone turn away that amount of foot traffic is beyond me, people were spending, drinking, eating, dancing, having a great time! Honestly I wish every Sunday was Pedestrian Sundays. Mr.Paveo Casa Ascorena is closed on Sundays so why does it bother you anyways, don't know why you care so much what they look like? I love your coffee and if you were. Open I'm pretty sure your business would be booming too! Are you jeolous that the other businesses made money because you like to close on Sundays , now that is petty you have the right to stay open or closed your perogative, but threating Mr Vaughn is not a smart move.
hellsbells replying to a comment from Terry / July 30, 2012 at 04:49 pm
Agreed !
Jay / July 30, 2012 at 05:59 pm
I did not make it down this past Sunday but plan to in the future. What I like about this plan is they are trying to find a balance between creating a pedestrian only area at certain times without being punitive to other businesses who may really on customers who do drive to the area. Balance is key.

Having recently been to NYC and experiencing Little Italy where they close the street to cars during the day on weekends I can say it's not hurting business.

As for the cost of the barriers, it seems excessive. One would think the BIA took some time to research the most cost effective options.
avp / July 30, 2012 at 08:51 pm
this just proves there will be always someone who complains about everything.
Michelle / July 30, 2012 at 08:54 pm
We live around the corner from the market. The rule is always "don't drive into the market." Streets are narrow and parking is lacking. There are parking lots nearby. Besides which, there is no store in the market which sells merchandise that cannot be carried. There are obviously some cranky business people in the market who are uncomfortable with change. Perhaps the truth is they don't want the increased business or that they can't handle it. I challenge any of these people to produce and compare Sunday sales records from the same Sundays in years prior to the launch of this event, and sales records from the present. I suspect they will find sales increases, so the "bad for business" argument really doesn't have weight.
cleancut / July 31, 2012 at 07:40 am
Low life hippy bastards aint spending money.Get a job you low life. BRING BACK THE DRAFT! clean up this city!
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from cleancut / July 31, 2012 at 09:43 am
Too bad the the same thing you want (if you're being serious about what you said) can't happen to you; I'd love to see right-wingers like yourself in combat in Afghanistan, and not only poor whites and youth of color.
Binky / July 31, 2012 at 10:23 am
Some businesses ARE being negatively affected. Who would complain if they were experiencing increased profit on Pedestrian and Market Sundays? Bottom line, the issue is real and those businesses who are complaining have experienced a decline in Sunday revenues over the past eight years of hosting the event MONTHLY. Now it's going to get much worse for them as the streets will be closed EVERY SUNDAY through the end of September. No wonder they are pushing back.
m / July 31, 2012 at 02:07 pm
$179k???? I'm all for pedestrian Sundays, but there's no way the gates should've cost that much!

cleancut replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / July 31, 2012 at 02:16 pm
The the lol you even stutter when you type you clown.You disparage our brave soldiers by saying that only the poor and people of colour are in combat. I would sentence you and all lazy people to a minimum of 50 lashes. That would teach you.
Matlock replying to a comment from tibor juda / July 31, 2012 at 02:51 pm
You're mostly correct, but it's not even assault if it's covered under citizen's arrest statutes. Property owners, or people operating on behalf of property owners, are empowered to arrest people committing any illegal acts in relation to that property. This includes trespassing. This is why bouncers at clubs do not get charged even when they physically remove someone from a premises. It only becomes assault if they engage in gratuitous physical contact.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from cleancut / July 31, 2012 at 05:07 pm
If you think that being a grunt is cool, why DON'T you join? It's not that hard to do.

Also, I don't recall stuttering anything I said; it looks as if you have reading comprehension problems in addition to dyslexia.
Picton Gal / July 31, 2012 at 06:55 pm
Casa Acoreana is not open on Sundays so the fellow is really being a twit. Pedestrian Sundays cannot possibly impact his business if he is not even open. Threatening violence makes him sound like a complete thug. Moonbeam Coffee it is for me from now on!
Binky replying to a comment from Picton Gal / July 31, 2012 at 09:59 pm
Casa Acoreana was open this past Pedestrian Sunday. Given, the owner is outgoing and vocal. He dares to speak up for other less vocal businesses who suffer through Pedestrian Sundays. They have made less money during the past eight years on Pedestrian Sundays than on normal Sundays. His point is that Councillor Vaughan and the Kensington Market BIA should not be acting against some businesses in preference to other businesses by foisting Pedestrian Sundays on all businesses whether they want it or not. And then there are the residents who are driven from their homes by the noise. I know it's complicated.
m replying to a comment from Binky / August 1, 2012 at 08:34 am
Not everything is about how much money businesses make. Pedestrian Sundays are good for the people.
Binky replying to a comment from m / August 1, 2012 at 11:24 am
Kensington Market is mixed commercial / residential zoning. The businesses are 99% small mom & pop operations which cannot afford to subsidize what are from now on WEEKLY street-closing Sunday events which as you say, are "good for the people". That's not their job. We pay taxes to subsidize city sanctioned events in public places for that very purpose.

For a good time, call 311... or go here:
m replying to a comment from Binky / August 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm
Streets aren't just for cars.
Binky replying to a comment from m / August 1, 2012 at 01:27 pm
And streets aren't just for pedestrians either. The streets belong to everyone. In Kensington Market, streets have evolved over a hundred years such that pedestrians, bicycles, skateboards, e-scooters, motor scooters, motorcycles, fork-lifts, cars, pick-up trucks, large trucks, etc. all have equal entitlement. They all own the street equally. Can you imagine 'No-Pedestrian Saturdays' in which pedestrians would be banned from Kensington streets? Just as absurd as banning vehicles on Pedestrian Sundays. These are tough economic times and established neighbourhood retail commerce should be allowed to go about its business without manipulation by politicians and bureaucrats considering themselves to be urban planning visionaries.
Picton Gal / August 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm
now I'm confused! Casa Acoreana is closed on Sundays except Pedestrian Sundays? I know he is normally always closed on Sundays because I am quite often there on a weekend when in Toronto visiting friends. Why else would he open on Pedestrian Sundays unless it was lucrative for him?
tripper replying to a comment from JennyT / August 2, 2012 at 02:08 pm
Did the fact that Kensington MARKET is a MARKET, and has been for decades and decades, somehow escape your notice when you moved in?

Surely you knew you'd have to live with a certain amount of chaos every weekend. It ain't the Annex.

asdf replying to a comment from r / August 2, 2012 at 02:59 pm
How about you just avoid the place if you don't like it, dumbass.
will / August 3, 2012 at 03:58 pm
I was there 2 days ago and saw the barriers for the first time. I have to say I'd probably threaten Adam Vaughan too. What are those barriers achieving that you can't achieve with construction barricades or street cones? How are the business owners expected to recoup the costs? Such exorbitant spending for an event that's only happening 3-4 times this year.
Aaron / August 3, 2012 at 11:57 pm
Congrats to the grade 9 remedial shop class that designed these masterpieces (for a mere $179,000) They rival the design excellence of the TTC’s garbage/recycling receptacles!
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from will / August 4, 2012 at 01:27 am
One more time, for those hard of hearing and who also have no reading comprehension:

'Regrettably true: for removable barricades (like those found at festivals) an off duty police officer is required. And they are expensive! ($65+ per hour, each, plus supervisors.)

At $65 per hour, one officer on one eight-hour Sunday, ensuring that a temporary barricade is obeyed, costs about $520. There are seven road closures, so I'll presume seven officers to monitor them, and eleven market and festival days just in 2012 (market days August and September only). The total policing cost is somewhere around $40K.

According to the Kensington Market BIA website, the plan is to expand market Sundays to include June and July, doubling the number of market days, so this would bring policing costs up to somewhere around $80K per year.

In light of these numbers, the cost of the new barricades ($179K in total, or about $25K each) looks smart. It'll pay off in fewer than two years.'

-Originally said by K
Binky replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / August 4, 2012 at 04:46 am
@Simon Tarses and @K, re. your math and paid duty police officers, there's just one cop retained per event. Therefore at $520 x 11 events / year, that's a total labour cost of $5,720 / year. At that rate it'd take 57 years of paid duty officers to equate to the $179,000 cost of the barricades. Factoring in the rental of temporary crowd control fences and cones, you could likely reduce that to 50 years. Even if the BIA was to succeed in doubling the frequency of the events to include May and June (which it's doubtful will never happen), it'd take at best 25 years to amortize the damned things vis a vis the cost of paid duty police, even factoring in an annual raise. Ridiculous.

Also there are hidden costs associated with the barricades as they will be removed in the fall and (heaven forbid) returned in the spring. Therefore there are annual transportation, storage and reinstallation costs. There's also the gardener's annual contract for the planters. And there's also lost city parking revenue from the seven parking spots they occupy.

The barricades are overbuilt such that they could survive civil unrest and even a nuclear armageddon so chances are they'll outlive the entire population of Toronto if reason does not prevail and they're removed. I hope someone is smart enough to realize a mistake has been made and work toward having them scrapped.

On the bright side, when they're removed for good, they'll be worth their weight in scrap metal, about $179.00 total.
Binky replying to a comment from Binky / August 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm
My bad. At least one paid duty police officer is necessary regardless whether the new steel barricades are in place or the previous combination of traffic cones / crowd control fences were to be used. The cost of paid police presence exists and is an additional cost regardless of which type of barriers are used. The above budget analysis arguments of @Simon Tarses / @K and my rebuttal are moot.

The steel barricades cost $179,000 and someone should do a comparison between that and the rental/ownership costs of traffic cones / crowd control fences. That would be an eye-opener.
will replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / August 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm
Regardless, the city isn't exactly known for getting value. I'm sure there's much cheaper options out there, but the city fat cats probably have no clue how to get a deal, or couldn't be bothered to shop around. Also, people usually over-quote once they find out the city is involved, so they're just suckers.
Eric / August 6, 2012 at 09:37 am
I'd like to know who charges $179,000 for metal barriers? I'm under the assumption that everyone in the finance departments in the city is stupid, so I have to blame the douche who charged that much!!!
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